Walking on the Path of Unity
During their first national common synods, 17-20 May, Sochaux (France), the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France and the Reformed Church of France decided to walk on an unifying process
For the first time in their long parallel histories, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France and the Reformed Church of France held both of their national synods in the same place and at the same time, gathering for common sessions. The bridge-building process between this two churches started in year 2002 when several congregations and regional synods of both churches asked their national comities to work towards a "stronger and more visible communion between our churches".
This process was, thus, in the agenda of the two national comities since then. They presented the synods a decision text planning the uniting process until 2013 and leading to own only church having "different confession regions". Therefore Reformed and Lutheran differences and sensibilities will be preserved in their historical areas.
These common synods being held in the Montbeliard area was on its own a strong symbol for Lutherans and Reformed in France. In March 1586 a first attempt to an united protestant church in France gathered in Montbeliard. There were several abortive attempts since the 16th century, the last one failed in 1968.
The decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France and the Reformed Church of France follows the uniting process of the Church of the Augsburg Confession of Alsace-Lorraine and the Reformed Church of Alsace-Lorraine which united their selves in 2004 as Protestant Churches of Alsace-Lorraine.
The synods also adopted a text on the theme of the evolutions of family relationships, called "Word, Parentality and Hope". This text declares there is no "Christian family pattern" and recalls churches : "Rather than deploring a mythical golden era for familiesÂ… we want to pronounce a blessing on all men, women and children living together". "We are joyful every time men, women and children live in love, solidarity, sharing and commitment one for the others".
The Evangelical Lutheran Church of France is 36.000 members, mostly in the MontbÃ©liard area and in Paris. The Reformes Church of France is 300.000 members in all of France, except from Alsace-Lorraine and the Montbeliard area.
Pastors of these two churches already study together in the Protestant Institut of Theology (Paris and Montpellier) ruled by both churches since the 1970's.
* GÃ©rald Machabert is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France and the editor in chief of its monthly magazine, L'Ami ChrÃ©tien.
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